Egyptian Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad (centre) Environment and Climate Change Project Officer of the European Commission in Cairo Sylvie Fontaine (left); and the Regional Programme Director for Sustainable Growth at CEDARE Hossam Allam attending the launch of the SwitchMed project s phase two in Cairo last week. Ministry of Environment
The launch ceremony, which was held at the Semiramis InterContinental Hotel in Cairo, was attended by representaives of the implementing partners.
These included Sylvie Fontaine, the Environment and Climate Change Project Officer at the European Commission; Elisa Tonda, the Chief Resources and Markets Branch and Luc Reuter Programme Officer at the UNEP; and Hossam Allam, the Regional Programme Director for Sustainable Growth at the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE).
Also attending were Tarek El-Araby, CEO of the Waste Management Regulatory Authority and Hossam Abdel Karim, the Chairman of the Blue Economy National Committee and the Suez Canal Authority.
The UNCTAD defines a circular economy as an “economy which entails markets that give incentives to reusing products, rather than scrapping them and then extracting new resources. In such an economy, all forms of waste, such as clothes, scrap metal and obsolete electronics, are returned to the economy or used more efficiently.”
Meanwhile, the European Commission defines a blue economy as "all economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts. It covers a wide range of interlinked established and emerging sectors."
The SwitchMed Egypt Project is executed by the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) and the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with UNEP.
The second phase will comprise: supporting the Waste Management Law No. 202 of 2020 and its regulations; supporting the Single Use Plastic Bags (SUPB) strategy and action plan; supporting two National Roundtables on Sustainable Consumption and Production; and supporting developing a National Blue Economy action plan.
In her opening speech, Fouad stressed Egypt's commitment to implement circular economy applications, the main solution to waste issues that have preoccupied governments.
"Egypt is creating a supportive climate through procedures, regulations and laws to limit plastic bag use," said Fouad.
The minister stressed that phase two, based on circular and blue economies, constitutes one of sustainable development's most critical goals.
She noted that the waste management law restricts single-use plastic bags for the first time, promoting reusable alternatives.
Fontaine expressed optimism that participants include stakeholders, stating "it's an excellent start! Different views will create win-win concepts."
Tonda underlined the opportunities in addressing plastic pollution: "We see new economic opportunities... creating a new economy, not destroying an old one."
Allam stated: “SwitchMed Egypt is a success story."
“The upcoming phase continues past cooperation among project partners, behind developing Egypt's Sustainable Consumption and Production National Action Plan and demonstration projects reducing single-use plastic bags,” he added.
"We dreamed of a law managing Egypt's waste predicament," said Allam.
"SwitchMed I paved the way for realizing that dream, and we're enthusiastic to resume progress towards law application and implementation."